HEAVY LIFTERS

…which end will you lift on?

Archive for the month “September, 2011”

MORE THAN MINISTRY

We think ministry should be easy.  We think people will fall all over themselves to thank us for serving them.  We think.

If you read my last blog post, you know that I volunteered to work with the kids at the African church that I’ve been going to on Sunday evenings.  I was really excited about the opportunity to serve!

Here’s how I thought it would be when I showed up:  The kids would be sitting in rows, hanging on every word I said, wanting to sing the songs I’d thoughtfully picked out, cooperatively playing the games, assiduously working on the crafts.

Ha-ha.  Ministry isn’t always easy.  Maybe God was like, “Okay, Melinda, you want to see what it’s really like to serve people in my name?  Here you go!”

Here’s what it was really like:  Imagine forty kids and me, in an 80+ degree room that is about 15′ x 20′.  Note there is a door that leads to the outside.  This is an important detail.

Imagine older boys running in and out of the room, pushing and kicking and making the little ones cry.  Imagine kids jumping on chairs and tables, and fighting over toys.  Did I mention how hot it was in the room?  Is your blood pressure going up yet?  How about now:  the church service lasted for three hours.  Three.  Hours.

Imagine that no one listens to you when you talk.  Or when you raise your voice, for that matter.  Or maybe even if you yell (I am not admitting that I did, but you can imagine it if you want to).  Theoretically speaking, you would feel like yelling, too, if a kid hit you directly on top of the head with a large wooden cube.  Not that I necessarily yelled, per se; but theoretically speaking, it’s possible.

Tonight, the pastor of the congregation that meets upstairs came downstairs to see why kids were running upstairs into their church service.  Whoopsie.  He took one look into the room and said, “THIS is more than ministry!”

Amen, brother!

I got back into the (tiny, hot) room just in time to see two kids slip out the back door.  Sigh.

Now, it’s easy to look back and laugh at my time with these kids.  I might laugh when my voice returns.  Not that I lost it yelling, mind you!

More importantly, I’ve been reflecting on the lesson I can learn from this ministry.  I pray that I can get to know these kids one by one (all 40 of them!) and grow to love them (even the head-banger!) and see them as Christ sees them.

Because, above all, these are precious kids that Jesus loves.  When God made it clear to me that this was something I should be doing, he didn’t happen to mention that it would be difficult.  I keep thinking that at least I can go home on Sunday evening and have a whole week of rest before working with the kids again, so I figure this is just pre-field training for my ministry in Africa.

And look:  Aren’t they adorable?  Doesn’t it make you want to come and help?

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WHEN IT RAINS…

In my last post I was wondering aloud about ministry opportunities here in Dallas.  If you get my newsletter, you also saw a prayer request for God to show me some ministry that I can get involved in during my year here.  (If you don’t get my newsletter, ask, and I’ll put you on the list!)  I also have been praying about finding the right church home here in Dallas.

My newsletter went out on a Saturday.  The next Sunday, I was inundated with ministry opportunities!  Our prayers were answered, friends!  My Cuban neighbors approached me to teach them English, I was given the opportunity to work with children in the African church I’ve been attending on Sunday evenings, and I am exploring an opportunity to teach literacy also.  Tomorrow, I’m going to start meeting with a young woman from the country where I will live for Bible study and prayer.  Why wait to move to Africa to build relationships, to help people and to teach literacy, right?

As far as finding a church home goes, the pastor’s wife of the Hispanic church that meets upstairs from the African church (multicultural church – I love it!) sought me out last Sunday night to invite me to their Sunday morning services.  She also asked me if I sing or play an instrument!  Hmmm….

This morning I went to the Hispanic church and was greeted warmly.  Turns out I’ll be talking to the teen Sunday school class in a couple of weeks, and my guess is that I’ll end up helping to teach that class.

Tonight, I went to the African church for my maiden voyage into helping the kids.  (That adventure will have to be its own blog post!)  Before church I was talking to the pastor, and he was expressing his gratitude for my willingness to help.  I told him that I had been praying for ministry opportunities and that God had pointed me to the kids in this congregation.  He said, “I love you for that!  I wish everyone would ask God for ministry opportunities!”

So, friends, what about you?  Have you asked God to show you how you can serve His people where you are?  Or maybe He has something special for you in another country!  Ask Him to show you what it is!

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